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updated: 9/13/2012 10:23 AM

Lisle's Depot Days invites visitors to get hands-on with history

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  • At Lisle's Depot Days, you can sample pies and other baked treats from the Netzley Yender House summer kitchen.

      At Lisle's Depot Days, you can sample pies and other baked treats from the Netzley Yender House summer kitchen.
    Courtesy of the Lisle Heritage Society

  • Civil War re-enactors group Taylor's Battery will fire a canon hourly during Depot Days. Between blasts, group members will portray individuals from the Civil War and interact with visitors.

       Civil War re-enactors group Taylor's Battery will fire a canon hourly during Depot Days. Between blasts, group members will portray individuals from the Civil War and interact with visitors.
    Vince Pierri | Staff Photographer, APRIL 2004

  • Children can make some new friends when Miller's Petting Zoo visits the Museums at Lisle Station Park for Depot Days.

       Children can make some new friends when Miller's Petting Zoo visits the Museums at Lisle Station Park for Depot Days.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer, SEPTEMBER 200

  • The young and young-at-heart can enjoy the HO-gauge model railroad display in the basement of the Netzley Yender House throughout Depot Days.

      The young and young-at-heart can enjoy the HO-gauge model railroad display in the basement of the Netzley Yender House throughout Depot Days.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Demonstrations of settlement-era hobbies and trades -- like blacksmithing -- run throughout Saturday and Sunday at Lisle's Depot Days.

      Demonstrations of settlement-era hobbies and trades -- like blacksmithing -- run throughout Saturday and Sunday at Lisle's Depot Days.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the times for Depot Days in the If You Go box accompanying the story.

Visitors will connect with history in a variety of fun and hands-on opportunities at the 28th annual Lisle Depot Days.

For starters, participants can ride on a hay wagon, look under the hood of a Model T, or learn how to harvest flowers and herbs to make soap. Festivities run noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, at the Museums at Lisle Station Park.

New this year is a three-course catered buffet luncheon featuring favorite recipes of three Civil War generals. Wheatstack restaurant will prepare and serve Maj. Gen. Daniel Hill's bean soup, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield's shepherd's pie and Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler's bread pudding.

The tasty shepherd's pie consists of ground beef combined with carrots, corn and peas that's baked under a layer of fluffy mashed potatoes. Lunch is served from noon to 2 p.m. both days under a large tent on the grounds of the Museums at Lisle Station Park. The cost is $7 for the meal and no reservations are required.

"The recipes of each general come courtesy of a book, 'Civil War (Period) Cookery' by Robert W. Pelton," said Wayne Dunham, president of the Lisle Heritage Society.

For snacks, visitors could head over to the Netzley Yender House summer kitchen and check out its free sugar cookies, cornbread and pie samples.

To lend ambience to the day's events, Taylor's Battery, a Civil War re-enactment group, will be in uniform. Each member takes on a historic character they enjoy talking about to visitors. At the top of each hour, the group will fire a Civil War-style cannon.

At 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday, the Battlefield Balladeers will bring to life Civil War music on the Depot station platform with a performance of patriotic, sentimental and comedic favorites. At 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Chicago native Jim Green will perform on guitar at the same location, all courtesy of the Friends of the Lisle Library.

The Lisle Model Railroad Club will continue to mesmerize youngsters of all ages as it has for the past 15 years at Depot Days. It's captivating to watch volunteers operating the multi-tier model HO-gauge train display in the basement of the Netzley Yender House.

Depot Days provides suburban children opportunities to pet animals from Miller's Petting Zoo and try their hand at milking Maggie, a full-sized Fiberglas cow. At 4:15 p.m. on both days, kids can participate in the Candy in the Hay Game.

The fun would not be complete without a few old-fashion games of skill such as the pie-eating contest at 1:15 p.m. and a seed-spitting contest 3:15 p.m. at the Beaubien Tavern both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the Lisle Library will host story times at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the front yard of the Netzley Yender house.

Gardeners will want to check out the Native American Three Sisters Garden. Depot Days chairman Heidi Otto, along with heritage society members Jim and Donna Fousek, tilled the soil and removed large stones to create the garden last spring.

The tradition of planting corn, beans and squash together is rooted in Iroquois legend that believes corn needs the company of the other two vegetables. The corn provides a natural pole for the bean vines to climb and the shallow rooted squash vines shades, preventing weeds and moisture evaporation. Otto researched the methods, varieties and staggered planting for the experimental garden.

Otto encourages visitors to stop by the fully restored 1928 Chevrolet displayed on the museum grounds. Its owner, Eugene Koepper Jr., always has a good pun or joke ready to share.

Depot Days is all about seeing and learning skills. Demonstrators will quilt, knit, weave, spin wool, rug hook and dye yarn, as well as create bobbin lace, rag dolls and leather crafts. Coming from the greatest distance are the rope makers from Piper City, whereas the beekeeper is from nearby Woodridge.

Demonstrations of early American skills include grinding corn, using an Ottawa log saw and forging metal and iron objects by blacksmiths using heat and anvils.

History comes alive among the tombstones at the Lisle Cemetery, a short one-block walk from the museum park. Lisle Heritage Society member and former teacher Carl Grumbles will lead the tour each day at 2:15 p.m.

If you ever wondered how much human energy is needed to power a light bulb, Art Dwight's Hit and Miss Engine and Bicycle power device should provide some answers.

Are you all thumbs when it comes to playing the string game of Cat's Cradle? Bob Vodicka will untie the mystery as he demonstrates a selection of string games.

Did you know that Union soldiers pitched mule shoes in Civil War camps? The Downers Grove Horseshoe Club will demonstrate and teach today's version of horseshoes.

Tours through three restored 19th century buildings, as well as the old Lisle Train Station and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy waycar, go on all during Depot Days. When in the Netzley Yender house, check out the Lisle Heritage Society Women's Guild gift shop.

All this memory-making fun takes place at the Museums at Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle, a block south of Ogden Avenue and two blocks east of Main Street. Plenty of free festival parking is available at the adjoining Metra station commuter lots. Admission to all activities is free. Details are at LisleParkDistrict.org and LisleHeritageSociety.org, or call (630) 964-3410.

The museum complex is a cooperative endeavor of the Lisle Park District, the Lisle Heritage Society and the village of Lisle. Depot Days is an enjoyable way to step back in time to Lisle's early years.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle twice a month in Neighbor.

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